It is said that it is during times of adversity that the spirit of a people can be truly felt. This was evident when the Philippines was struck by Super Typhoon Yolanda, the aftermath of which saw a province completely devastated. As the nation came together, the resilience of the Filipino was matched only by their sense of camaraderie.
With aid and rescue work done, the harder task of rebuilding is now on hand, and the desire to help is as strong as ever, but even months later, much work remains. There are corporations and companies that have initiated fundraising campaigns to help the people of Tacloban reclaim their communities.
It was during one such recent company customer thanksgiving event that two artists where given the opportunity to share their time and talent to help raise funds for the victims of Yolanda.
Their participation was made poignant by their personal stories of struggles, hard work, perseverance, and triumph.
The stories behind the canvases tug the heartstrings and makes one believe in the indomitable human spirit to succeed and make a name for oneself as a visual artist. Among the featured artists at the event were Carlos “Totong” Francisco and Orville Tiamson.
Carlos “Totong” Francisco 3rd: Scion of a National Artist
Carlos “Totong” Francisco hails from artistic stock. His namesake is the eminent National Artist Carlos “Botong” Francisco—his grandfather—and naturally, was one of his first inspirations. Despite this distinguished pedigree, he still considers himself a struggling artist. The expectation and pressure can also be too much.
“I still think I am a struggling artist. Admittedly, I am challenged by my lolo’s famous name,” says Francisco. “Being a grandson of a famous national artist can sometimes be too much to handle, but over the years, I have learned to cope with it.”
His first break as an artist came in 2000 when he mounted an exhibit in two different locations. Two years later, Francisco opened his own art space named The Second Gallery, in Angono, which catered to young artists. He considers this as his first big break into the art world. Since then, he has owed his success and growing fame to old-fashioned hard work and perseverance.
Today, Francisco is considered one of the more established young artists. However, in true humble form, he is not one to decline opportunities to be a part of something noble.
“The thanksgiving event sponsored by DHL for the benefit of Typhoon Yolanda survivors was a memorable one and is something I feel honored to be a part of,” he said. “It is not always that I get the chance to showcase my work while being able to help those in need.”
Orville Tiamson: The value of family support
Like Francisco, Orville Tiamson comes from a family of artists. His father and two siblings all share the same artistic talent. He considers himself fortunate because he always had the support of his parents when it came to pursuing his artistic dreams.
“The biggest challenge for me as a budding artist is how to get in the art scene,” said Tiamson. “I had to grab every chance of showing my works by participating in shows, exhibits, and competitions even if I did not win.”
His first break came in 1987 when he earned one of five slots, edging out 300 other art students in the 5th ASEAN Youth Painting Contest.
Presently, patrons came first from among family and friends, and later from leading art galleries and corporations that commissioned him, such as Wyeth Suaco Laboratories, Meralco Foundation, and Forex.
“I was excited and honored to have been invited to be a part of the DHL customer thanksgiving event,” he said. “Opportunities like these, to be able to showcase your work and help survivors of Typhoon Yolanda, don’t come often.”
Through the DHL event, these two remarkable artists were able to showcase their works and help raise funds for the benefit of the victims of Yolanda. Nurhayati Abdullah, DHL Express Philippines country manager, saw this as an opportunity to help the people of Tacloban while lending color and culture to the activity through an art exhibit showcasing Filipino talent.
The funds raised in the event were donated to the Philippine Red Cross for the rehabilitation of the communities stricken by the typhoon.